July 5, 1958

The car was one of those one-eyed jacks. A ten-year-old Studebaker, maybe brown, possibly maroon. Its left head lamp out. It began following us somewhere outside of Amarillo and now we were over the New Mexico line and it was still there. Keeping a half mile back at all times, watching and waiting…

Excuse me if I was a little crazy from all-night coffee. Route 66 had been our home for the last thirty hours. We took turns making time in the T-Bird, Liz driving the day shift and me at night. Billy even took the wheel with his non-casted hand when one of us needed a break, or when Liz and I had things to discuss.

Which we did. The immediate goal was to get her brother back to L.A., but she was in no hurry to pull her stuff out of storage there or as I suggested, go back to the Bay Area. She was still on edge over the Peanut Killer, but who wasn’t? He was haunting her dreams too, and her decision to ditch the west coast was related whether she copped to it or not.

Which is why I didn’t bring up the one-eyed Studebaker right away. Even after we filled up in Tucumcari and the damn car tucked itself a half mile back behind a billboard. Waiting for us.

Liz knew I was jumpy. I said I needed food, so we stopped at a place called Joseph’s Bar & Grill for hash browns, greasy links and yet more coffee. Five minutes into our meal, the Studebaker cruised by while we sat in the window booth. I tried to see the driver but caught only a hulking shadow.

Seeing the car pass by relaxed me. Liz took the wheel for the last stretch to California. Billy sat up front to fiddle with her radio and I curled up on the back seat.

I dreamed I was catching Christy Mathewson at the Polo Grounds. The grandstand was full of motionless, undead fans, and fog was wafting in off the Harlem River. A one-eyed Chicago Cub I didn’t recognize stepped into the box, said “Howdy, Milton”, knocked my behind with his bat and I snapped awake as the T-Bird swerved.

“Turn it off already!” cried Liz.
“So pass him!” said Billy.
“He won’t let me!”

I sat up. The Studebaker was now a quarter mile in front of us, the only car in view on this barren stretch of desert between Gallup and Flagstaff. Its right directional signal was blinking.

“What’s going on?”
“Can’t you see? I’ve been staring at his damn signal now for fifty miles and it’s making me blinking crazy!”

She gunned the gas to try and pass the Studebaker but it shot ahead and resumed the game.

“I’ve tried that over and over. What’s his problem??”
“Try it again.”

She did. Swerved into the left lane and pushed the pedal so hard I thought her engine would blow. We got about a hundred yards from the Studebaker’s bumper before it jerked in front of us and zoomed ahead again.

“Okay Liz, pull off the road.”
“What? Why??”
“Just do it please.”
“Give me a reason!”

I didn’t need one. Grabbed the wheel from behind and jerked us into the right-lane. A giant produce track honked and roared past out of nowhere, nearly sideswiping us. Liz shrieked and I swerved the car off the blacktop into a tire-slowing stretch of hot sand.

Liz and her brother were stunned, then furious. I let Liz yell at me and Billy whack me a few times with his arm cast. But the Studebaker had vanished, and the two of them slowly calmed down. After a toasty hour sitting there by the side of Route 66, we resumed driving.

By then, I had told them that the car had Ohio plates.

THE SKINNYS

STL 000 000 100 – 1 3 3
S.F. 012 000 02x – 5 7 0
W-Antonelli L-Mizell GWRBI-Rodgers
Vinegar Bend is 11-2, Johnny Antonelli 2-10, so of course Johnny wins. Key errors by Cunningham, Flood and Freese don’t help the Cards’ cause, and we’re over .500 for the first time in months!

CHI 011 210 200 – 7 10 2
L.A. 010 020 200 – 5 12 0
W-Hobbie L-Koufax SV-Henry HRS: Neeman-2, Walls GWRBI-Walls
Koufax’s first five innings are a nightmare, and it proves to be enough to put the Cubs back in the win column. Furillo singles, doubles, and triples for what it’s worth.

PIT 000 000 000 – 0 6 0
MIL 000 101 20x – 4 11 0
W-Burdette L-Friend HR: Mathews GWRBI-Bruton
So much for the hot Pirates. The Milwaukee Suffocation Rotation is at it again, Burdette winning his seventh in a row with ease while Bob Friend loses his ninth straight. Everyone in the Brave lineup except Logan chips in with at least one hit.

PHI 123 000 010 – 7 13 3
CIN 030 000 210 – 6 9 2
W-Semprich L-Purkey SV-Meyer HRS: Jones, Lopata-2 GWRBI-Jones
CIncy drops its eighth straight thanks to an early Bob Purkey meltdown, and three errors by the Philly second sacker Solly Hemus can’t even inspire them.

BOS 002 101 000 – 4 9 0
NYY 000 000 05x – 5 11 0
W-Dickson L-Kiely SV-Maas GWRBI-Howard
The Bombers are blowing their opponents’ minds every day now with late-game comebacks. This one is a backbreaker for Boston. Up 4-0 in the 8th with Leo Kiely relieving a tired Monboquette, Elston Howard leads off with a double. Mantle singles. Berra singles. Skowron gets plunked. McDougald singles and Murray Wall takes over. Lumpe hits a sac fly. Marvelous Marv Throneberry pinch hits a walk. Carey singles. One out later Howard bats again and singles in the go-ahead run.The Yanks were threatening the entire game so the fact they scored five runs isn’t a big shock. But their impeccable dramatic timing is, and Boston falls seven behind.

BAL 000 001 100 – 2 3 2
WAS 100 011 00x – 3 6 2
W-Ramos L-O’Dell HR: Triandos
Continuing their death spiral are the Orioles, who throw out the 10-4 Billy O’Dell and still manage to lose to the 2-13 Pedro Ramos, despite four regulars being out of the Washington lineup. I’m speechless.

K.C. 000 110 100 – 3 8 0
CLE 000 002 000 – 2 7 1
W-Gorman L-Narleski GWRBI-Martyn
The .500 mark is kind of like an electrified force field, and every time the Indians and Tigers reach it they get zapped back into mediocrity. Tom Gorman bails Bob Grim out of a 6th inning jam and shuts the Tribe down on one single the rest of the way.

DET 000 000 002 – 2 4 1
CHX 001 110 02x – 5 12 1
W-Latman L-Lary HRS: Harris, Battey GWRBI-Battey
Filling in for the ailing Sherm Lollar, backup backstop Earl Battey doubles twice and homers off the mediocre Frank Lary and knock the Tigers deeper into the AL slush pile.

NOTE: Deadline has been extended to Wed. August 29th to enter the MYSTERY BALL ALL-STAR GAME CONTEST and win two cool CDs! Click here for the rockin’ details. The game will be played Thursday evening at 10:00 EDT and reported in a live Tweetcast right here.

National League through Saturday, July 5

Milwaukee 43 34 .558
Los Angeles 41 36 .532 2
Chicago 42 38 .525 2.5
Philadelphia 38 37 .507 4
San Francisco 40 39 .506 4
St. Louis 37 39 .487 5.5
Pittsburgh 36 42 .462 7.5
Cincinnati 33 45 .423 10.5

American League through Saturday, July 5

New York 52 26 .667
Boston 45 33 .577 7
Chicago 46 34 .575 7
Baltimore 45 36 .556 8.5
Cleveland 40 41 .494 13.5
Detroit 38 41 .481 14.5
Kansas City 31 47 .397 21
Washington 21 60 .259 32.5
Advertisements